Cooking and Blogging for an Individual Identity
Being the oldest of the three daughters, I had a different kind of an attachment with my parents and had this thing of not taking money from my father. Since twelfth standard, I have been on my own. And he asked me to keep all the money for myself as I had earned it. I started as a teacher in a primary school since twelfth doesn’t land you a job. Later I did several jobs like keeping books of accounts at an accounting firm, handling administrative operations at an IT firm. I paid for my MBA in HR in installments with those earnings. Out there every job asks for experience but I had none, at least not in the field of HR. Due to the pandemic and the company I worked with at that time not making enough to pay its employees, they terminated all of us.
There have been many ups and downs but I had this drive to have my own identity not just as a housewife. I was settling for money which didn’t give me the satisfaction of actually doing what I love. During the lockdown I had ample amounts of time to think about it and I realized that I actually enjoyed cooking more than anything, it wasn’t just a hobby. I have the skill of cooking anything from even a limited amount of food items. Cooking brought my creative side like no other job could. I actually enjoyed it.
My mother has been my idol in cooking. Though I didn’t cook until my marriage, I was always fond of looking at whatever my mother used to cook. As soon as I completed my MBA I got a marriage proposal. It was very unexpected, I just went with the flow. My husband told me to click pictures of everything I cooked. He suggested I make a food blog after I mentioned it one time and was very supportive during the entire process.
I opened Instagram and started this page. I wanted the name to be inspirational and unique. After marriage, I entered a Swaminarayan household and was very attached to one lady guru called Indu Swami. I used to call her Swami and she called me Shaily. She is more like my divine mother. I used to ask for her advice for every decision I made, be it personal or professional. I have dedicated this page to her, that’s why I named it SwamiShaily keeping in mind how much she has helped in becoming what I am. I think I took this decision at the right time. Everyone was very active in the middle of the lockdown. I started interacting with different food bloggers, got added to certain whatsapp groups and built my network that way. I did research regarding hashtags, captions and how I should click cooking pictures in order to get it under the public’s eye.
Publicity gets you followers. How positively you approach people also helps in building a good impression, which goes a long way. Some popular food bloggers would not be willing to share their knowledge and will insult you for contacting them. I contacted one food blogger for some advice and they were very rude. They questioned how I could approach them when I didn’t know them, that we weren’t friends and later they unfollowed me. I later apologized a lot saying that I had no intention of hurting them and that I was genuinely curious. I want everyone to grow, there should be no competition as such.
I interact with several new bloggers. My main motive is the recognition of locals. I collaborate only with the bloggers who need recognition and need cooking tips. Many people struggle with finding jobs or getting proper reach. They cannot afford to publicize their product with the budget they have, I make sure that I collaborate with them and not charge a single penny from them. My first collaboration was with a small oil company from Hyderabad. Cooking has been my passion and I wanted to give it a platform. I started it for my own happiness. I want to take everyone forward with me, share my knowledge and experience with others and want everyone to make equal progress in whatever they are doing.
In future, I want to open a small tiffin delivery service through zomato or swiggy after this blog gets settled.